Over the last few weeks, posts have been somewhat sporadic, but that is because we have been busily working on our major off-season project—the Diamond Futures’ Annual Prospect Lists. We have been developing/posting Top Prospect lists for nearly a decade. Over the years, the format has changed somewhat, and the analysis has become somewhat more involved, but the essence of what we try to do has remained the same. The Diamond Futures’ rankings start with a completely analytical rating system, that covers the previous two seasons. From there, the art enters into the process, as we add information that we have gathered over the year from our various scouting reports and industry contacts. We add to this list the information that we have from the 2009 draft class and International signings to eventually produce the rankings that you will see. In all, we evaluate over 5000 players, winnowing that list down to just under 2000 players whom we consider actual prospects. For each of those 2000 players we assign a letter grade. While other sources assign letter grades that provide subjective criteria for the grades, our letter grades have actual objective criteria attached to them. Below are our definitions of each grade you will see:
Grade A: A grade of ‘A’ is given to the top 1% of all Minor League players. Based on our research of historical rankings, a player with a grade of ‘A’ has a 94% chance of one-day playing in the Minor Leagues, and a 60% chance of having a significant Major League career—defined as performing in the top 10% of all Major League players that play at least 2 seasons.
Grade A-: the next 1% of Minor League players earn a grade of ‘A-‘. An ‘A-‘ player has a 87% chance of eventually playing in the Majors, and a 35% chance of having a significant Major League career.
Grade B+: the third 1% of Minor League players earn a grade of ‘B+’. A ‘B+’ player has a 81% chance of eventually playing in the Majors, and a 25% chance of having a significant Major League career.
Grade B: players that fall into the 4th thru 6th percentiles earn a grade of ‘B’. A ‘B’ player has a 78% chance of eventually playing in the Majors, and a 20% chance of having a significant Major League career.
Grade B-: players that fall in the 7th thru 10th percentile earn a grade of ’B-‘. A ‘B-‘ player has a 75% chance of eventually playing in the Majors, and a 15% chance of having a significant Major League career.
Grade C+: the second 10% of all players, earn a grade of ‘C+’. A ‘C+’ player has a 56% chance of playing in the Major Leagues, and a 12% chance of having a significant Major League career.
Grade C: A grade of ‘C’ is given to those players that fall in the 20% - 30% range. These players have a 33% of playing in the Major Leagues, and a slightly less than 10% chance of having a significant Major League career.
Our ranking formulas attempt to look at the probability curve of future Major League performance, based on a players demonstrated on-field performance in the categories that our research has proven to have key predictive value and projectability; defined by physical characteristics, age, and draft/signing information. We have a database of 40 years worth of Minor League data that we have drawn these evaluation methods from. While it is nearly impossible for a single organization to produce first-hand scouting reports on 5000 players, or even 2000 players, in a given year, our data methods have allowed us to identify key players to target for more in-depth analysis. What we end up with is a blend of performance evaluation, projectability forecasting, and first/second hand scouting reports. While our method isn’t going to ‘guarantee’ what type of player James Darnell will become, we are extremely confident in our probability curve of the type of Major League career that a player like James Darnell will produce. It is the quantitative assessment of that probability curve that produces our rankings. In effect, one can say we quantify the ‘ceiling vs. certainty’ argument.
Beginning tomorrow, we will be posting our Prospect Rankings for every Major League team. We will post these rankings at a rate of approximately 3 teams per week, between now and the end of January. We will post these teams in reverse order of overall Minor League strength. Tomorrow Team #30 will go up, and Team #1 will be posted near the end of January. Once all teams have been posted, we will publish our Annual Top 300 Prospects ranking list.
For each team, we will provide a brief commentary of overall organizational strength, grades for every ‘C’ or better player, and profiles for every player that grades out at ‘B’ or better. In the player profiles, we provide the player’s team rank, their 2009 Performance scores in each of the 4 key areas that we measure, our assessment of how we expect the player to perform in the future, and hopefully at least 1 or 2 tidbits that you won’t find anywhere else. All of the other work that we do during the course of the season is nothing more than building blocks to our ranking analysis, so we sincerely hope you get as much out of it as we put into it.